Online Interviews – The Wave of the Future

Due to this year’s COVID-19 developments, many business procedures had to be adjusted. Recruitment wasn’t an exception, the process going through significant changes – due to restrictions, how do we make face-to-face interviews possible? As you have probably guessed it, they have mostly changed to a virtual format now. This implies carrying out the discussion over specific platforms, often with a video component. In this article, we will tell you about our company’s experience of carrying out online interviews and some tips to help you ace the interviews at DevelopmentAid!

What is our experience?

Luckily, online interviewing is not a novel concept for us. At DevelopmentAid, we have been experimenting with online interviews prior to the pandemic as well. This means that candidates were given the choice between a face-to-face and a virtual interview by phone, Skype, or Google Hangouts. Since the pandemic has started, most of our interviews (and all the interviews with the HR) are online and conducted using the Microsoft Teams app. We believe that it is an efficient and safe option for our candidates, as it excludes challenges such as arranging transportation, finding the office, and of course – potential risks of meeting face-to-face.

From an insider perspective, it was interesting to ask our colleagues managing online interviews for feedback. Sergiu Casu is the director of the Corporate Sales Department at DevelopmentAid, and interviewing is a staple in his schedule. He noted a positive aspect of virtual platforms, saying:

“On one side, I noticed that candidates are more relaxed, there are less distractions for them as well.”
Nevertheless, Sergiu also told us about the challenges he faces as an interviewer. Due to technical disturbances and potential difficulties…
“It is harder to hear all the tones of the voice, notice the hands and body posture, the instruments that we have to use are limited to the word usage and eye movement.”
Understandably, the liaison between both parties involved in the interview is much less tight. Sergiu also mentions that this is often exteriorized through candidates being “less open and eager to discuss”, as compared to a face-to-face setting.

We’ve also spoken to our Recruiters to find out how they perceived online interviews. Starting off on a very positive note, they stated:

“I liked online interviews. The interview often passed into a friendly conversation. Of course it is easier to assess the candidates when they come to the office, you see and hear very well (no poor connection issues), and it is easy to give them an additional test when we have questions.”

Interestingly enough, they also told us about a difficulty associated with online settings – the lack of a perceived work atmosphere. When there is the possibility to communicate through various gadgets in any place of the world, it often ends up being a non-working space. Our Recruiters told us that in the office…

“The atmosphere is usually a working one, but in the case of online interviews not all candidates truly understand that they should be in a quiet room, have good connection, and not be disturbed by other issues. I had some examples of speaking with people who were in a car, during their work break, or while walking in the park.”

Our colleagues raised interesting points – online interviews have logistical benefits but have downsides in terms of human contact, rapport building, and human interaction.

Let’s ask our employees!

Naturally, we were also interested to find out the experience of candidates that successfully went through online interviews and got hired. Ana-Maria from RightAngle recalls her positive memories, stating that:

“I had a pleasant experience and it saved me a lot of time by not having to go the office as in this way I wouldn’t be able to plan for anything else that day.”

Likewise, our new colleague from Corporate Sales Department, Silvia, mentions the flexibility and creativity allowed by online interviews:

“Everything was good. I liked that you had an original approach by not following the old and odd questions asked during an interview and you were flexible with accepting online interviews, me having training from home during this unusual pandemic situation, etc.”

Anastasia from Data Management Department, mentioned potential challenges posed by having conversations virtually: “The only disadvantage is that sometimes may happen difficulties caused by poor connection.”

Tips to ace it!

Based on our experience and feedback from candidates, here are some tips we consider useful when preparing for an online interview with DevelopmentAid. Check them out below and ace your next online interview!

  • Treat it exactly like a standard in-office interview! Wear your part, prepare in advance, and set up your interview space in a work-like setting.
  • Eliminate all distractions. Choose a silent, well-lit room with good Internet connection. Don’t forget to turn off your phone and announce your family members/roommates that you have an interview, so that they don’t bother you.
  • Test your equipment beforehand, so that there are no surprises during the call. Check your camera, microphone, and lighting.
  • Focus on the camera, not the screen! Although it seems natural to look at the other person on the screen, this makes it look like you’re keeping your eyes down. Try to look directly into the camera occasionally, to keep “eye contact” and build rapport.
  • Get your energy level up and put on a smile 🙂 Since the interviewers will only have a short time to evaluate you, looking tired and silent will not do any good. Get in a talking mood beforehand and try to convey a positive and professional attitude!
  • Work on body language. Even though you’re sitting pretty much motionless, do not forget about your mimic, hand gestures, and posture. Interviewers will surely notice a lively, genuine body language rather than a static, picture-like appearance.
  • Establish a two-way communication. Do not be afraid to ask questions back! Primarily, it is important to ask about the job, activities and future responsibilities, career development and company history. Afterwards, you could inquire on the company’s COVID procedures, team-building during WFH, policies, etc. Showing interest and courage to ignite a discussion will score you bonus points – since you are not in the building and cannot see for yourself, why not ask everything that you would like to know during the call?
  • Stay in touch! It still remains important to check emails after applying for a job in order not to miss an invitation for an interview, for example, or other important updates from the company you applied for. Also, it became even more important to “arrive” on time for the interview, as you don’t have the excuse of traffic jams and not being able to find the office. On the other hand, starting the call too early is also not recommended. Try to check everything in advance, but appear in the call (when it’s a video interview, not over the phone) on the exact time or 3 -5 min before.

We hope these tips will help you be the best version of yourself during online interviews, and will support you in making a good impression. Even though the screen between us is a technological impediment, do not forget that it’s still a human-to-human interaction, so an open mind and a genuine attitude will always stand out!

What’s the conclusion?

Online interviewing becoming the norm during COVID-19 times is just one of the many ‘realities’ we will have to get used to. However, this does not mean that the interviewing process will become less qualitative or personal! If you think about it, many processes can actually benefit from going virtual, in order to save time and increase efficiency. Besides, you get to relax at home right after the call – that should put your nerves at ease and give you something to look forward to 🙂

After reading our ‘insider’ article and following our tips you will be 100% prepared to tackle any online interviews! When you’re prepared, your chances of being hired will be so much higher. Why not put your knowledge to the test? Check out our vacancies here and apply!